Coats for Kids kicks off ninth campaign

The first year of the Rotary Coats for Kids campaign nine years ago, organizers distributed 40 coats.

Last year, the program gave out 1,700 coats, and the numbers continue to grow, said Darlene Broadhead, president of the Burnaby Metrotown Rotary Club.

Started originally by South Burnaby Neighbourhood House (SBNH), the project is now run by the Metrotown Rotary club and each fall it becomes almost a full-time endeavour for all its members.

"Every year more people find out about it," she said.

The club seeks donations of new and gently-used coats, and purchases new discounted coats with monetary donations. To start with this fall, it has 577 coats left over from last year's drive.

That may seem like a lot but, Broadhead stressed, to distribute 1,700 coats means they actually need about 2,500 to accommodate different sizes, ages and genders.

The program serves children from babies to 18-year-olds. Schools identify families who are in need of winter coats and they're invited to choose their own coats from a truck filled with racks of them.

As people can drop off coat donations at all branches of Burnaby Public Library (BPL), the library bedbug scare last year necessitated a new protocol, said Broadhead, adding no bedbugs were ever found in their coats.

Donated coats are now all laundered and dried in commercial dryers, at temperatures hot enough to kill any potential bedbugs, before being distributed.

That's all thanks to Edmonds Coin Laundry and Dry Cleaning, which donates the labour for the cleaning services. Zeemac Truck Rentals donates the truck for the six weeks of distribution, and Freeway Mini Storage donates year-round storage.

Broadhead noted that any donated coats the program can't use are passed on to other local agencies for their clients or programs.

Rotary Coats for Kids will be kicking off the campaign at BPL's Summer Reading Club medal ceremony and pancake breakfast being held Saturday, Sept. 8, 8:30 to 11 a.m., at Civic Square, next to the Bob Prittie Metrotown branch library. Organizers will be promoting the program and collecting new and gently-used coats.

After Sept. 15, coats can be dropped off at any BPL branch, the three Staples stores in Burnaby and South Burnaby Neighbourhood House, 4845 Imperial St., Burnaby.

Coats will be collected until the end of the year, with distribution taking place between Oct. 15 and Nov. 30.

Monetary donations of a minimum $20 are tax receiptable. They should be sent to and made payable to South Burnaby Neighbourhood House and clearly marked "Rotary Coats for Kids."

Info: Darlene Broadhead at 604-323-6756, SBNH at 604-431-0400, or

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